Across the Pastor’s Desk: God sees us with motherly love

Published 8:00 pm Friday, May 10, 2024

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Across the Pastor’s Desk by Trish Reedstrom

Happy Mother’s Day to all who celebrate this holiday. While it’s a secular holiday, churches often make a point to recognize mothers, if for no other reason than it always falls on a Sunday!

But perhaps there is also a theological connection between a mother’s love and God’s love for us.

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While much of scripture and church doctrine has historically described God using male pronouns and descriptions, it might be worth asking ourselves if some of the descriptors we use for a mother’s love could also be used to describe God.

We are accustomed to calling God “Father,” and we follow the example of Jesus in doing so. At the same time, we realize that God is neither male nor female. Instead, God is God, and we actually use many different names and descriptors to talk about God’s being. Our confirmation students recently tried to come up with a name for God for every letter of the alphabet. Each name or description gives us some understanding of God’s nature and character, but we also know that when it comes to talking about God, the best use of human language will always fall short. Why? Because God will always be bigger and greater than our human limits, including the limits of language.

The Bible itself gives us a variety of different names and descriptions for God to better understand different aspects of God’s being. Think about names like Messiah, Lord, Jehovah or Emmanuel and what they tell you about God. “Abba” — the Aramaic word for “father” – is also used in various places in the New Testament to describe God.

But what about the name of “mother?”

When we look, we find the Bible has numerous descriptions comparing God to a mother, and to a mother’s love. In Hosea 13:8 God is described as a mother bear, and in Deuteronomy 32:11-12 God is like a mother eagle. In Isaiah 66:13 we read: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you,” and many of us are familiar with Jesus’ description in Matthew 23 and Luke 13 when he says “Jerusalem, Jerusalem….how often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Are there other ways you would describe a mother’s love that might remind you of God and God’s love for you? Try using them in your prayer or devotion as you give thanks for the mothers in your life.

Trish Reedstrom is the interim pastor at First Lutheran Church in Albert Lea.